Governor Northam Announces $1.5 Million in Funding for RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge Winners

Six entrepreneurs will receive funding for innovative resilience-building solutions

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $1.5 million in funding for six business winners of the first-ever RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge. The winners will each receive between $160,000 and $310,000 to develop innovative products, services, and workforce development programs to help coastal communities adapt to climate change. These approaches will be demonstrated in the Hampton Roads region with the goal of building economically viable businesses and solutions that are scalable to other communities.

“The Commonwealth is well-positioned to create and implement innovative adaptive concepts that will ensure the viability and economic vitality of coastal areas for future generations,” said Governor Northam. “As we continue to look at new ways to address the growing challenge of extreme weather events and sea level rise, these six businesses will be leading the charge to develop, test, and demonstrate cutting-edge products and tangible solutions to improve the resilience of our coastal communities and mitigate the growing risks to Virginians, especially in our Hampton Roads region.”

In 2017, Virginia was awarded $120.5 million through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) for innovative solutions to combat sea level rise in the Hampton Roads region. Of the award, HUD allocated $5.25 million to support the development of the nation’s first-of-its-kind resilience innovation hub called RISE, a Norfolk-based non-profit organization that provides businesses the resources to develop and grow resilience-building solutions for coastal communities. RISE’s first initiative has been their signature Coastal Community Resilience Challenge, which was funded with $1.5 million through the Resilience Innovation Fund.

“Massive infrastructure projects take years and billions of dollars,” said RISE Executive Director Dr. Paul Robinson. “By developing the Hampton Roads region as a hub of resilience innovation for entrepreneurs, we can accelerate investment in affordable and scalable solutions and establish Hampton Roads as ground zero for the resilience economy.”

“Building strong entrepreneurial ecosystems is a key part of our economic plan, and this competition is yet another way we are encouraging growth and success for our small businesses,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “In addition to the groundbreaking work these six winners will be doing, we are excited that two of the winning companies will be relocating from out of state to Hampton Roads for this innovative work.”

The 2018 RISE Coastal Community Resilience Challenge topics were identified by more than 60 municipal, national, and international stakeholders and resilience experts during a Challenge Design Workshop organized by RISE and MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with support of the City of Norfolk Resilience Office and sponsorship from Old Dominion University. RISE will work alongside the winners to facilitate access to real-world infrastructure, data, experts and mentors—with the aim of scaling proven solutions nationally and internationally.

“As Virginia plans to be resilient with rising seas, recurrent flooding, and more intense and extreme storms, we need an all hands on deck approach to protecting the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Natural Resources and Chief Resilience Officer of Virginia Matthew Strickler. “I am pleased to see private industry working together with state and federal government to tackle this existential threat to Virginia.”

Last November, Governor Northam issued groundbreaking Executive Order Twenty-Four laying out a series of actions the Commonwealth will undertake to bolster Virginia’s resilience to sea level rise and natural hazards and limit the impact of flooding, extreme weather events, and wildfires. This executive order is among the most comprehensive actions undertaken by any state to improve resilience and protect people and property from natural catastrophes. Most significantly, the executive order directs the development of a “Coastal Resilience Master Plan” to protect our coastline from sea level rise and extreme weather.

“Robust economic development opportunities related to coastal adaptation needs provide a critical path forward as we develop our Coastal Resilience Master Plan to protect and adapt Virginia’s coast,” said Admiral Ann Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection. “Thanks to the hard work and success of RISE, these six entrepreneurs bring creative solutions across a range of today’s needs for our coastal communities, which will help make us more resilient as we prepare for our climate-changed future.”

“This initial challenge revealed the promise of our competition model for identifying innovative solutions and growing resilience-focused businesses,” said RISE Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Katerina Oskarsson. “We are currently preparing to open the next Challenge Competition cycle in the summer.”

RISE will work with the six small businesses, selected from a pool of 51 applicants, to grow their businesses in a “living laboratory” environment across the Hampton Roads region. For more information on the winners and the next competition cycle, visit

Coastal Community Resilience Challenge Winners:

Business Name

Project Description

Building Resilience Solution

Building Resilience Solutions will pilot alternative flood resilience retrofit methods for older and historic structures under various flooding conditions.

Constructis Energy

Constructis Energy will pilot patent-pending technology that harnesses kinetic energy from traffic to provide power to emergency services, traffic signals and pumps that clear flooded roadways.

GROW Oyster Reefs

GROW Oyster Reefs will demonstrate a novel concept of oyster reef restoration which will improve the overall water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and reduce effects of flooding by creating an organic seawall.


InfraSGA will pilot innovative urban retrofit bio-retention systems that will reduce stormwater flooding while decreasing the design, construction, and operation and maintenance costs.

Landscape Resilience Partnership

Landscape Resilience Partnership will accelerate the adoption of green infrastructure by growing its workforce training program. This will ensure that Hampton Roads has a well-trained network of skilled workers to design, install and maintain nature-based solutions.

Resilient Enterprise Solutions

Resilience Enterprise Solutions will offer financing, insurance and home-raising as a single source offering while also establishing a Home Raising Training Academy in Hampton Roads.

Contact Information

Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development: Amanda Love,, (804) 371-7006